County funds new housing project

Posted 9/11/19

Advocates for low-income housing say there has been no construction of affordable apartment buildings in Jefferson County in the last decade, a drought the County Commission took steps to end this week, more than a year after declaring an affordable housing emergency.

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County funds new housing project


Editor’s note: A previous story published in the Leader incorrectly reported the Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners approved $75,000 for a proposal by Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP) to build 44 units of affordable housing. The county’s joint oversight board on affordable housing had approved this funding, but the Commissioners did not until their meeting on Sept. 8.

Advocates for low-income housing say there has been no construction of affordable apartment buildings in Jefferson County in the last decade, a drought the County Commission took steps to end this week, more than a year after declaring an affordable housing emergency.

The Jefferson County Board of Commissioners on Sept. 8 approved the sale of a parcel of land at the corner of Hendricks and 7th Street in Port Townsend to OlyCAP to build 44 units of affordable housing with an early childhood education center.

The Commission also released $75,000 from the county’s affordable housing fund—collected from transaction recording fees—to help OlyCAP demonstrate to federal agencies that it has support and funding to get started.

The last affordable housing project in Jefferson County was South Seven Senior Village near Port Hadlock, built in 2006, according to a press release from OlyCAP.

The funding was previously approved by the Joint Oversight Board on homelessness and affordable housing, which includes members of both the county commission and city council and prioritizes solving the affordable housing crisis in Jefferson County.

The half-acre property is adjacent to the county’s Department of Community Development and QFC. It was originally purchased in 2002 for $3.1 million with two other parcels which currently house DCD and the county’s public health department.

Most recently, the parcel has been used by Jefferson Healthcare for parking. It was recently valued at $362,280 by the county assessor.

The county is selling the property to OlyCAP for $36,200, which is just less than 10 percent of the assessed value. Selling the property at 10 percent of assessed value will help OlyCAP in seeking grant money for the project. State law allows the county to sell the property for less than its assessed value if there is a public benefit, such as providing affordable housing, said county Central Services Director Mark McCauley.

The project will focus on very-low and low-income families and individuals with incomes at or less than 50% of the area median, or $32,200 annually for a family of four said Dale WIlson, OlyCAP’s director. Half of the building’s units will be for families or individuals with incomes at or less than 30% of the area median, he said.

According to Mark Blatter, the project manager who is working with OlyCAP on development of the units, there will be six studio apartments, 19 one-bedroom apartments, 15 two-bedroom apartments and four three-bedroom apartments to make a total of 44 units. There will also be parking on the ground floor of the building.

During a public hearing at the commissioners meeting, Wilson addressed concerns about the lack of parking for the hospital.

“We’re building a community, we’re not building parking,” he said. “This community has to do something about its housing problem. Sometimes there are just going to be impacts. We believe in the end, it will be a positive impact.”

While adding 44 units of housing to the Castle Hill neighborhood will increase parking issues in the neighborhood, it was not the height of commissioners’ concern.

“Getting people out of cars, not building more parking, is the issue in my mind,” said commission chair Kate Dean.

Meanwhile, Jefferson Healthcare is working to fix its parking problem. According to Amy Yaley, Jefferson Healthcare’s communications director, the hospital district bought a parcel of land next to Manresa Castle, where it hopes to build a parking lot sometime in 2020.

“As Jefferson Healthcare continues to grow, it becomes harder to accommodate parking and the burden on the local streets becomes more and more apparent,” Yaley said. “This, in addition to the promotion of ridesharing, biking and walking, is an attempt to lessen that burden on our neighbors.”

By that time, the affordable housing project is expected to be nearing its final phases, as the project is slated to take a total of four years to complete, including the year and a half OlyCAP has already spent on pre-development and design, Wilson said.

They hope to begin construction by September of 2020, with the project slated to finish two years later, said Kathy Morgan, OlyCAP’s housing director.

It will likely cost $10 to $15 million total. The majority of the funding for the project is coming from Low Income Housing Tax Credit which is a group of investors, the Housing Trust Fund, and community partnerships such as the county’s $75,000, Morgan said.

The county’s purchase and sale agreement that was approved by commissioners on Monday requires that the land be used for affordable housing for a minimum of 50 years.

“The highest and best use in our opinion is for public benefit purposes,” said Mark McCauley, the director of central services for the county.


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For 15 Million, 500 houses could be build in a community, with each house having its own front and back yard, and being 2 and three bedrooms too, if the county donated 50 acres of land just outside the city. So how they come up with massive figures for such few homes is joke.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019
Trent Diamanti

$15 million divided by 500 houses is $30,000 per house. According to the average cost to build a house in Washington is $201K to $490K. Needless to say, I am highly skeptical of your contention that this is an inefficient program by that comparison.

Thursday, September 12, 2019


By the time you take away corruption, favors for friends business and money for their back pockets you save a whole lot of money. If the county donated free land then massively more savings. If they donated free permits instead of the current 'Screw the poor and let the wealthy save money' permit system, a permit system that greeds on the innocent (Most over counties allow mini homes with barley any permits, Jefferson County, No! they want thousands to build a simple garage the miserable people) then even more money is saved. Then when one builds a whole lot of extremely efficient 2 floor affordable houses you save a massive amount of money. Then when you get a single contractor who builds all the houses for a fixed fee, you save even more money.

This area is full of con companies, and the county uses many of them. One popular concrete guy in Quilcene gave me a bid 2 years ago of $9,000 for a 750 Sq Foot 4" thick concrete pad (nothing special,) yet that works out to over $12 per square foot. That would be for 1 day ground prep work. 1 Day form prep work, 1/2 day pour and remove forms. So if you calculate $1000 concrete, $1000 materials, then that $7,000 labor works out nearly $300 an hour each for two people. That is extortion. In Seattle, Bellevue area that would would be massively lower, $4 to $6 max. Another con company in Hadlock charged me $400 to install a ceiling fan *they were there 45 minutes and much of that was me chatting), they did not do it correctly, they did not do the wiring, then had the cheek to charge me credit card fees on top of that. They even charged me half an hour time waiting on my driveway as they arrived early (The owner lives a few houses down from me) when I told them not to and they agreed to come at the time I said. So when you have companies like these who massively inflate costs, you can see the issues of these massively over priced houses.

It is crap like this which needs to stop. Even with retail prices, one could easily build my 'Low income' houses for $30,000 a piece, and have actual affordable houses, as the $300,000 listed in this article is BS, and anyone involved in that project needs to be fired as they clearly have no idea about affordable housing.

It is amazing how we are talking about low income housing, yet the area is so screwed up by our leaders. Many people earn minimum wage and struggle to survive while the county works with these extortionate companies. The county causes high costs of living by not letting other 'Affordable' stores in, so all the stores then price match with things like 'Campbell's Chunky soup, every day low price of only $2.99' (which is well above Campbell's MRRP) when places like Walmart have an everyday price of about $1.70, and Kroger and Safeway have massively more food buying power than Walmart food side. Strangely though, they are letting U-Haul build a massive storage site, but that is listed as another company, but once again wont let us have a Walmart, or Central Market, or other stores that could help people.

It is about time many of our leaders, and many businesses are investigated for conspiracy, price fixing, discrimination, profiling, hate crimes and violating the constitution as nothing is 'Equal' at all. Years on the county /and City is still trying to drive the poor out so they can have this paradise they want of rich retired people.

Friday, September 13, 2019
Fred Camfield

Those of us who grew up in Port Townsend remember the previous housing project. It was torn down about when the town went into a decline after Fort Worden closed down, and there was an excess of housing in the late 1950s. It was located near the golf course where the Junior High School and pool were constructed, then the Jr. High School moved and the site became something else.

Saturday, September 14, 2019